from humble beginnings, Phil Guzha had a dream he never thought would transform the lives of many in Zimbabwe and beyond. The idea of empowering people with skills to manufacture products such as detergents and fruit juice from their backyards turned out to be a huge empowerment movement that would see many a family improve their livelihoods. I (RM) caught up with Guzha (PG) at one of his training sessions and asked him a couple of questions regarding his project.
RM: Hello Phil, it is a pleasure meeting with you personally at last. What are some of your great works that you are doing in the community.
PG: Thanks a million times, Rob. It is great meeting you too. We all have some moral obligation to make everybody’s lives better.
RM: What is the name of your business and how did you come up with this name?
PG: The project name is Networked Business Minds which I think is quite self-explanatory. We bring together business-minded people forming a network for continuous improvement once they start their business projects as they learn from us and each other while conducting business together back and forth, growing the network from Zimbabwe into the region and beyond.
RM: Now tell us,when did you start this programme and how did this idea come about?
PG: The programme is quite young. I started it in November last year. It is all as a result of trying to find a solution to challenges the general populace is facing as a country, of course with considerations regarding people from all struggling economies in the region and further afield.
I am a business consultant with a finance background. I am also a community leader heading a community development project in Masvingo South where I have interacted with the marginalised for quite some time getting a closer feel of how badly poverty affects them. I am bringing together my professional and business background
I came up with what I felt could be a solution to the livelihood challenges the low and medium classes are facing. The programme is for economic empowerment and business development through simple skills acquisition, low capital and low-risk business projects.
RM: What are the qualifications required for anyone to enroll for training and how long does the training take?
PG: There are no minimum qualifications required to enroll for training. One just needs to be able to read and write (laughs). By the way, when industrialists went wherever they did to open up their industries it is only these simple skills they were equiped with, all which you can learn in a matter of minutes, not degrees, masters nor PhDs.
It may sound controversial, but that was the idea and purpose hence I have always advised people, especially those attending our workshops, to seek education with relevance to financial independence and bright livelihoods.
For the latter part of your question we run one-day workshops that cover up to 8 products in series, meaning an attendee can train on all the products on the bouquet at one workshop in one day.
RM: How are people imparted with the requisite entrepreneurial skills?
PG: Thanks for this one, Rob. At the same workshops we have business talk sessions where we give business advice and motivation and here we have quite successfully changed mindsets, giving eye openers to these aspirants on the basic requirements for one to start a business project.
After attending the workshops the post trainees are added onto our NBM platforms where all the information they need regarding suppliers of raw materials, packaging and even the market is shared from the NBM management and amongst themselves.
RM: How many people have you trained so far and which regions have you covered?
PG: Post trainees are so far close to a thousand from within Zimbabwe and a few more from South Africa where we have conducted two workshops in Gauteng only. In Zim we have held a few workshops in Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo, Gweru, once in Kariba and once in Masvingo with attendees coming from virtually every corner of the country.
RM: Are you getting any assistance from government?
PG: Not yet. Actually, for corporate social responsibility we have identified some government departments we would like to assist and our first target are the prisons.
RM: What does it take for someone to run such a project successfully?
PG: Like I said earlier, it has taken my professional, business and community development background to come up with the project and get it to where it is today.
Further, one also needs to understand well the needs of the targeted people and project their response to particular solutions you have to offer.
RM: Where do you see this programme in the next five or so years?
PG: The project is growing exponentially. It has rejuvenated hope to so many in our generally struggling economies with such an encouraging impact.
So, geographically, we will allow the interest it creates to take care of that while in the office. There is a lot we are working on that includes standardisation of members products and central marketing via radio, television, press, social media as well as e-commerce.
Robert Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). Contact: email@example.com/www.lird.co.zw.